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All You Really Need To Know About Vegan Stuff I Learned For You At Natural Products Expo West

Filed under: Events Food Los Angeles

photo by Andrew Coate

I’m not so sure why I am bothering to write so many words in a row about what I ate/saw/heard/smelled at the Natural Products Expo West this year, seeing as it seemed to me that all of you were there, too. Snapping Instapix and live-blogging your way down aisles 100-6500 (there were that many aisles this year!) like my friend The Insufferable Vegan. But, for the seven to ten of you that were stuck at home cause of your baby/snow/flu I’m gonna break it down so it’ll feel like you were there, also too.

Imagine the airport the day before Thanksgiving. A big airport like JFK or O’Hare. Instead of gates there are booths and instead of travelers trying to make their way home so they can binge eat in private, there are vegans trying to grab free samples, take pictures of said samples, and Instagram that picture while eating and walking to the next booth. Now spend an entire day or two or three eating something sweet then something salty then something sweet then something spicy then something gross then a beverage that is probably tea/coconut/chia/chunky/vitamin’d. Surround yourself with chips or chip like things made out of everything from peas to potatoes, chocolate, ice cream, meatless technologies, robo-cheese (do you like that term for vegan cheese? I just coined it.) and a lot of a lot of a lot of things.

Here are my top however many things I learned tasted or took away from NPEW ’13 in iTunes shuffle-style order:

6. DF Mavens Ice Cream. Holy wow. The New Orleans Salted Praline and the Key Lime Creme were so creamy and so delicious it totally makes up for the fact that their name is Da Funk Mavens*


*a fact I totally made up.

17. Dennis Kucinich, who was not available to sample but was available for a photo op. He was this year’s Fabio, seeing as Fabio was devastatingly not in attendance, ruining my plan to get him to sign 8×10 glossies of US from the last two years, and then give them to him. At least Dennis didn’t dislocate my shoulder.

That's Dennis's wife Elizabeth who is very tall, vegan, works at Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and is checking out my vegan buns.

That’s Dennis’s wife Elizabeth who is very tall, vegan, works at Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and is checking out my vegan buns.

Fabio dislocates my right shoulder 2011

Fabio dislocates my right shoulder 2011

Fabio dislocates my left shoulder 2012.

Fabio dislocates my left shoulder 2012.

32. Asherah’s Gourmet Vegan Burgers. These are gluten-free, soy free, flavor-full and one of the best “garden patch” style veggie burgers (as opposed to Meatless Technologies) you can get. Try the Chipotle flavor if you like a little kick.

21. Hodo Soy Beanery makes the best Tofu not in Japan and they have this guy!

I up'd the contrast so's you can really see his shiner. Do you think he put cold tofu on it?

I up’d the contrast so’s you can really see his shiner. Do you think he put cold tofu on it?

Prepare yourselves for their new Sofrito filling at Chipotle! And in the interim, try their yuba strips!

42. Califia Farms coffee drinks with almond milk are not only super tasty beverages, but their packaging belongs in the MoMA.


8½. LØV Organic Teas come from a land where the null sign is part of the alphabet and bright colors are not necessarily a sign of special needs.


1. The Elegant Vegan. PICKLED KALE people. Pickled Kale! The nicest family from Wisconsin you could ever meet at a vegan convention combines approximately eighty Portlandia jokes into one delicious food . They also have a B&B that serves vegan food called Ye Olde Manor House!


17. Did I do 17 already? Fine. 25. The people of Tofurky were so nice and handsome also and so were all the new Tofurky products like: three flavors of hot pockets (pepperoni pizza, turk’y broccoli & cheddar, BBQ chick’n), three new artisan sausages (chick’n & apple, spinach pesto, andouille), quiche, and pot pie, and a personal promise to me by Gregory Rekas, Research & Development Chef, that they will make a stuffing-less Tofurky.


3.14159. So Deliciouss new Coconut Milk Creamers will supposedly foam in coffee beverages the way “real” milk does! So, eff you Handsome Coffee Roasters who won’t serve freaky milk (read: non-dairy milk) because it’s “not good.”


35. Boca Original Chik’n Veggie Nuggets have such a different flavor than the 87 other brands of chik’n nuggs. I think maybe they taste like chicken! Use caution, not all Boca products are vegan.

Boca puts their meats on a pedestal.

Boca puts their meats on a pedestal.

11. Justin’s vegan peanut butter cups will now be sold in bags, Halloween style! I might actually be able to like that “holiday” now. Though one bag probably costs $8,000.


16. Follow Your Hearts new Chipotle Gourmet Vegenaise and High Omega Bleu Cheese Dressing are the kind of good that if I ever decide to commit suicide, I think I will drown myself in this stuff.



99. Wayfare makes oat based ice cream! And they have a Vermont Maple flavor! It’s like being in a vegan ice cream parlor inside a sugar shack in Quebec.


3. Go Veggie! (GVEP [Go Veggie Exclamation Point])’s new products and top-secret new products in development (with a food scientist who happens to have the only PhD in Tofu in the world and created Silk) and partnership with the ever-adorable Spork Sisters who create recipes like Strawberry Cream Cheese Mousse With Graham Cracker Crumbles. I suggested they make a brie next. Wouldn’t that be great?


666. The Orange Owl. This was the best non-edible booth of the show. Akshata Nayak, the owner, was born and raised in Bangalore, India. She moved to the US, got a Masters in Biochemistry another Masters in Applied Clinical Nutrition (she’s a master master) and then started the best designed and most lovely body products company I know. Now where’s my vat of chipotle Vegenaise?

13. Haig’s Delicacies. Have you ever tried muhammara? You should. And their dolmas. And their hummus. Yum.

33.3333 Guacamame. This sounds disgusting, but sounds can be wrong. It was really good guac made from edamame!

59. Nutty Cow. These soft nut cheeses in a little tub were really good. If you want a soft spreadable substance, there are ricotta, a garlic herb and a maple pecan options that would work well I bet.

88². Maggie’s Conscious Vegan Cuisine makes ready-to-eat meals in a BPA-free container that can go right in the microwave. The Lentils with Curry and Lime flavor was really delicious and by far the best of the three I tried. As extra-credit for your mouth, they’re gluten-free, don’t have any saturated fats or added oils and are low in sodium!


48. The Real Deal Real! Veggie Chips Sriracha. These gluten-free all natural chips are made from peas! I don’t even like peas! AND, these have 80% less fat than potato chips AND AND one ounce of chip equals one and a half vegetable servings. Did I mention they taste like Sriracha and they’re super crunchy and I’m eating them with one hand as I type this with the other?

5. Mr. Dewie’s almond milk ice cream. Wanna know why it’s called that? Check-out this non-fictional fact. If that doesn’t make you want to eat their ice cream I just don’t know what will.


9. A gajillion new Gardein products! Including breakfast sandwiches, beefless jerky, GoGo Cuisines, wheat free chick’n strips, sizzlin’ szechuan beefless strips, and a lightly breaded turk’y cutlet! I think Gardein and Daiya are two-handedly keeping Canada in business.


The Gardein of Eatin… so tempting!

∞. Everything else. Like Daiya‘s new pizza (the garlic mushroom in particular, though I didn’t think their new cheese slices were very good), Maple Bacon Kettle Chips, and Objects With Purposes great smelling wearable candles made from organic coconut butter, Victoria Vegan arugula pesto Alfredo sauce, Earth Balance cheesy poufs and popcorn, Bolani Afghan dips, and a special SuperVegan Award For Sucking goes to Lightlife, for serving their vegan products on non-vegan buns.

Now visualize with your mind’s eye or some other new-agey part of you that the show is all over, your shoes are filled with blood, every part of your body hurts (especially your tum) and a S-M size piece of your soul was left in the basement of the Anaheim Convention Center,** But that is not the end of the journey! No! No trip to The OC is complete without the purchase of several boxes of Girl Scout Cookies, so it’s off to the nearest Food4Less to buy three boxes of cookies for twelve american dollars from a girl scout that looked older than me. And no, it does not make any sense that OC’s are vegan and LA’s are not.


**Dramatically enhanced for your enjoyment.

Did you go to the Expo? Do you know if Tums or AlkaSelzer are vegan? What were your favs/least favs? Stay tuned for a special report on all the gluten-free vegan products!


  1. Comment by

    Aimee Dars Ellis

    on #

    You’ve made me jealous and hungry but also excited to know I’m not the only one who would prefer stuffingless Tofurkys!

  2. Comment by

    Jason Das

    on #

    I would prefer a Justin’s Peanut Butter Cup the size of a Tofurky. With a picture of Fabio’s face imprinted on it.

  3. Comment by


    on #

    I’m so jealous – wish we had even half these products in South Africa!!!

  4. Comment by


    on #

    I used to think Dennis Kucinich was too liberal for America. But now I realize he might have been President if only he knew how to smile. And speaking of smiling, is there a way to “like” Jason’s comment?

  5. Comment by


    on #

    So glad you liked the Key Lime Creme and the Salted Praline! Those are my two favorite flavors as well :)

  6. Comment by


    on #

    All those ice creams looks Amazing (especially the Lemon Sunshine)!! Would love it if we had more variety like this in my area!!

  7. Comment by


    on #

    Also, Daiya Foods launched pizzas (cheese lover’s, margherita, fire-roasted veg, mushroom & roasted garlic), cheese slices (cheddar, swiss, provolone), and spreads (strawberry, plain, chive & onion). All soy-free, all amazing!

  8. Comment by


    on #

    So much great new stuff but too bad DF Mavens is already a controversial brand! The Key Lime Pie they handed out is not even vegan, even though the label says %100 vegan. When I bought the pint in the store, honey was listed as a ingredient in the so called %100 vegan product. So far, I have not seen a satisfactory response about how this could happen.

  9. Comment by

    Andrea Wachner

    on #

    Robert, I wrote back to you yesterday with what I think is a very satisfactory response. Did you not get my email? Or do you not think it was satisfactory? They ARE vegan, it was a labeling mistake, one they have apologized for, so I think we should forgive them and move on, “Short answer is there’s no honey. Guy who ordered labels made did it based on old graham crackers they used before they realized honey wasn’t vegan. They have an explanation on site which is set to go up soon. They ordered 10,000 containers so they don’t want to waste them, but the actual graham crackers in that flavor have no honey. They really are 100% vegan.” Then another person with the company says, “Luckily, this mistake was caught before the company begins its rollout, so there are no pints of the non-vegan Key Lime flavor available any where in the market place as of today.
    I hope you will have it in your heart to forgive the company for its early-on error, and know that this has just made everyone that much more alert about ever making any kind of similar mistake again.”

  10. Comment by

    Andrea Wachner

    on #

    And Mindy, I did mention Daiya and their new products at the end of the post, but it is a long one, so I guess I can’t blame you for not reading all the way through.

  11. Comment by


    on #


    Thank you for sharing your concerns. My apologies for the confusion and frustration this situation has caused. As a bee-free, ethical vegan for more than a decade, I also take these issues very seriously. Fortunately, this issue was a result of a labeling mishap, and there was no soy lecithin or honey in the actual product you purchased, ensuring that no animal (human or non) has been put at risk. The mistake was the result of one employee in the company listing incorrect ingredients for the graham crackers that are in that flavor based on an old recipe before others in the company clarified that honey was not vegan and could not be used. The actual product in the store has never and will never contain honey or any other non-vegan ingredient. Now that the labeling issue has been brought to our attention, the pints of Key Lime Crème ice cream are being pulled from the store and the label is being replaced.

    Please accept our sincerest apology for the mistake, but know that we take our responsibility to protect our consumers, and the animals we share this planet with, very seriously.

    If you have any more questions, I’d be happy to answer them, but prefer if you’d do so through the courtesy of a phone call or an email instead of going on multiple sites to mar a brand that is doing so much for the animals (providing an incredible vegan ice cream to replace the others out there AND sponsoring Mercy for Animals, one of the nation’s greatest animal charities).

    DF Mavens Brand Management Consultant

  12. Comment by


    on #

    On a totally separate note, I gotta concur with Andrea about so many great products. My favorites were the new Gardein products (gluten-free chick’n strips? heck yeah!) and the Follow Your Heart bleu cheese (first good bleu cheese I’ve ever had).

  13. Comment by


    on #

    And by good, I mean good for my tastebuds AND the animals :)

  14. Comment by


    on #

    With all do respect, how am I marring a company who knew they had a labeling issue regarding the claims of veganism and allergens BUT SENT OUT THE PINTS ANYWAY? Or the other explanation that its was an error that was discovered after sending them out? Either way it calls a lot into question when it is very important to the strict attention to detail in products for vegans? I remember when marshmallows were labelled as vegan but weren’t or fast food restaurants did not list animal ingredients in their ingredient lists. I think this is an important issue and the idea of trust needs to be built. A company with no history needs to build trust and not just ask for us to believe them when, as you say, Malcomb (??) who is NOT vegan and doesn’t know what IS vegan created the ice cream.

    Many of us that are vegan and many of us that believe in Animal Rights WANT THE TRUTH and not just words. I remember whn Quarry Girl exposed vegan foods that weren’t vegan and we didn’t say shhhhhh, be quiet, at least they say they are vegan. What does givin to a charity have to do with anything? Are you as a company trying to buy our loyalty? Silence? Vegan dollars? I think it’s great that your company gives to Mercy For Animals but how much? How my percentage? Should I buy from McDonalds because they give to great charities?

    And by the way, I go to various blogs for the same reason you do – company business – o I mean because I READ THEM AND RESPECT THEM!

  15. Comment by


    on #

    Yup, I did see your mention of some of Daiya’s new products, but I thought your readers would like to know specifically what they are.

  16. Comment by


    on #

    i was waiting to hear how the expo went. thanks for the recap!!! i am looking forward to trying all these great products. the DF Mavens Salted Praline sounds amazing. i hope it will be sold in the NJ/NYC area!

  17. Comment by


    on #

    Hi Tara,

    DF Mavens ice cream pints are already available at Commodities Natural Market on 1st Avenue and 10th Street. Stay tunes to and the soon-to-be-launched to find out where it will be available as we roll out the product line!


  18. Comment by


    on #

    thanks david i will check it out!

  19. Comment by

    Maureen Nolan

    on #

    Will there be another one at Anaheim Convention next year? Or in southern California? I want to go. Also, I had a lot of confusion about vegan GS cookies. Did not know that in Orange County they have vegan. I bought mine in Los Angeles. Not vegan. Thanks for the info

  20. Comment by

    Andrea Wachner

    on #

    Maureen, I assume there will be another Expo in Anaheim same time next year. For a full explanation of the vegan/not-veganess of GS cookies, check out this excellent blog post:

  21. Comment by


    on #


    Natural Products Expo West happens every spring in Anaheim and Natural Products Expo East happens every late summer/early fall in Baltimore. Unfortunately, these events are not open to the public as they are “trade” shows in the traditional sense.

  22. Comment by


    on #

    “…and bright colors are not necessarily a sign of special needs”?

    Really? That’s nasty. It’s ableist, it’s nasty, it’s cruel.

  23. Comment by

    M. "Butterflies" Katz

    on #

    Check out this historical document and special feature on long-term vegans:

  24. Comment by


    on #

    Thanks for the report! Yes, Expo West is an annual event. There is also an Expo East in the fall, usually in Baltimore but it’s been in Boston a couple of times. Plus there is an All Things Organic which is smaller but all organic. It used to be late spring in Austin, then Chicago, but now they seem to co-locate it with Expo East.

    My favorite stop this year was Earth Balance. They had chicken salad sandwiches made with gluten-free vegan fake chicken, vegan mayo, and regular vegan bread. With a side of the “cheese” puffs. The fake meat came from another company (sorry, can’t remember the name) which was meh on it’s own but fantastic with a mayo dressing.

    But yeah, you gotta be careful. Earth Balance, for example, had peanut butter spread on toasted English muffins but so did Glutino (same EB spread) and the Glutino ones had dairy (I’m dairy-free for medical reasons so major oops; I got nailed).

    It’s a fun show. My family goes every year.